Business and Human Rights: legal frameworks (curriculum for law students)

Business & Human Rights (BHR) have acquired the particular relevance during the last decade. The logic of this framework entails that business actors have an important impact on the enjoyment of human rights by people within the field of their modus operandi, and must therefore consider the risks that their operations might create and that can violate or contribute to violating human rights. The UN BHR framework does not introduce any legally binding instruments for business specific obligations. However, it does make it clear that business actors must respect human rights.

The countries of the V4 already have experience of implementing the UN Guiding Principles on BHR. In particular those countries that have adopted their National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights, like Poland, or are preparing their NAPs – like Czech Republic. This experience is very useful for Ukraine, as understanding of BHR in those countries yet a few years back, was very low. Thus our partners would be in position to share their expertise in raising awareness and building capacity of various stakeholder groups. This is particularly important, because in Ukraine, there is an urgent need to increase the level of knowledge on business and human rights (first of all, for lawyers).

For many years, Ukraine stayed outside of this discourse: not only business representatives, but also majority of lawyers are not familiar with the basic principles of the BHR, and the key processes like human rights due diligence, that are at the core of effective respect for human rights by business.

At present, none of the Ukrainian law schools teaches the topic “Business and human rights”. It is not part of the curriculum for the future lawyers. Moreover, traditionally human rights have been seen as relevant only in relations between the individuals and  State and its agents. Finally, also human rights organizations and representatives of state structures/public administration overlook this subject. There are no relevant information campaigns, trainings, conferences or open discussions in Ukraine on BHR, incl. challenging the operations of both national and international companies, that could contribute to increasing awareness of BHR and empower individuals to demand from companies that they respect human rights in their operations.

As a result of the this project a joint training course “Business and HR : legal frameworks” will be developed by the Ukrainian University (Yaroslav Mudryi NLU), academia and research institutions of the V4 countries and also representatives of some other EU countries which have significant experience on BHR standards implementation (Denmark, Lithuania).

It is important that Ukraine in many ways has a common history with the countries of the V4 and Baltic countries. For many years all these countries were part of the socialist camp and at the end of the 1980s and in the early 1990s experienced a difficult period of transition to the new legal regulation model which based on the human rights approach. Nowadays the countries of the V4 and Ukraine have a common task of ensuring that business respects human rights and forming an effective mechanism of the UN Guiding Principles implementation. This is of great importance given the amount of foreign direct and indirect investment that is coming from the V4 countries to Ukraine. It would be also very useful both for Ukraine and for V4 states to explore best practices and strategies of BHR standards concerning implementation in close cooperation/with support of the  Danish and Italian partners which are globally recognized for their expertise in the sphere of BHR; and inspired by those,  develop national roadmap for BHR implementation (e.g. via National Action Plan, development of academic curricula aimed to prepare future lawyers, but also managers, for addressing human rights challenges encountered in their companies’ everyday operations.

Project phases:

29/05/2018 – 02/06/2018

Conducting series of working meeting (via Skype and personally in Kharkiv) to agree on the structure of the training course and methodology for teaching.


Meeting Ukrainian experts with Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Polish Institute on Business and Human Rights (Warsaw, Poland)

14/06/2018 – 15/06/2018

Participation in the 4th International Conference “Contributing to sustainable development. CSR Trends IV” (Lodz, Poland) with presentation of the project

15/06/2018 – 20/07/2018

Preparing collections of sources on Business and Human Rights

15/06/2018 – 01/09/2018

Developing the curriculum on Business and Human Rights for law students

01/09/2018 – 26/09/2018

International experts of the project will give their comments to the training course and recommendations how it could be improved

26/09/2018 – 28/09/2018

Presentation of the training course on Business and Human Rights for law students

01/10/2018 – 20/10/2018

Conducting of Pilot training course on Business and Human Rights for law students

20/10/2018 – 31/10/2018

Final version of the training course will be disseminated among all Ukrainian law universities and law faculties